Competition Results

1st Prize    Annette Skade, Ireland                            Strand

2nd Prize Rory Duffy, Ireland                                   The Pauper of Murhaun

3rd Prize Siún Carden                                                 Sampler: As I cannot write


Thanks to all who turned up today and read poems, and thanks to everyone who entered the competition.

What the judge James Harpur said:

It was with great pleasure that I read the poems entered for Pastimes Past Times, and, as the theme might suggest, I was swept away to years long gone and not-so-long gone, whether it was to the eras before the two world wars or childhoods of the 1950s, 60s and 70s. Of course it was incredibly difficult to choose winners out of the field of entry, and of course, as poetry judges often say, poetry, like all arts, is not one of those areas most suitable for judging and comparing: how do we compare a Piccasso with a Rembrandt, a Mahler with a Purcell, or a haiku with a ballad?

It can’t be reiterated enough that poetry is not an athletics event measured by a stop-watch; nor is it some sort of chemical formula which, once you’ve learned it, you can reproduce at will. The main aim of poetry is to give pleasure to the reader, and perhaps food for thought and feeling – and I can say that all the poems here did that for me in different measure.

In carrying out the judging I looked out for positives such as rich evocations, original images and poetic structures that seemed to reinforce the meaning rather than detract from it. Conversely, I was on the watch-out for rhythms that felt a bit clunky, or clichés appearing too readily, or the theme not being sufficiently honoured. As for the judging process, all the poems came to me, unfiltered, via Dropbox with just a title and a reference number. I read each of them in batches, jotting down notes, before reading them again to try to pick out potential prize winners. The final decisions took as long as the initial siftings.

Weighing all these things up, I decided to give first prize to ‘Strand’ for its subtle weaving of folklore, history, and mystery, all delivered with a satisfying precision of language. The second prize I gave to ‘The Pauper of Murhaun’ with its beautiful musical cadence – as befitting its subject matter of a piper. And third prize went to ‘Sampler: As I cannot write’, a delicate study of stitchwork giving voice to an otherwise silent witness of the past.

I would like to have given honourable mentions to all the other poems, but I must confine myself to a dozen or so:

‘Making Daisy Chains’, Games Remembered’, ‘Mullach Summers’, ‘Denis Hempson to the Belfast Harpers Assembly, 1792’, ‘Craft’, ‘Blackburn Birthday’, ‘Treadle Love Yarn’, ‘Time Trapped’, ‘Framing that Circle’, ‘Opossum Nights’, ‘A New Wall’.

Bernadette Tansey reading Making Daisy Chains

Shortlist announced

 The shortlist has just been announced by our judge, James Harpur.  The prizes will be awarded on August 17th in Strokestown Library, Co Roscommon at 11am.

Prizes will be awarded on August 17th

Heritage week 2019 Event

Help us celebrate Heritage Week 2019

To celebrate Heritage Week 2019 we are launching a Summer Poetry Competition on June 15th 2019 with the theme of Pastimes: Past Times.

Poems can only be entered online - please scroll down this page

1st Prize of €100.00, 2nd Prize of 70.00 and 3rd Prize €50.00.     The winners will be announced and a reading of the shortlisted poems will take place in Strokestown Library at 11am on Saturday 17th August.  The shortlisted poems will be displayed in Strokestown Library for the duration of Heritage Week.

Each poem should be new and unpublished, inspired by the Heritage Week theme of Pastimes: Past Times, and will be judged by highly acclaimed poet, James Harpur.

  • Each poem can be in any style or format, but can be no more than 30 lines, written in English.

  • There is an online charge of €4.00 per poem and you may enter as many times as you wish, however, only one poem per entrant will be shortlisted.

  • The poem/s must not have been previously published in any format.

  • Do not include personal information or identification on your poem.

  • All poems should be typed on an A4 page

  • The closing date is midnight, Friday 19th July 2019. Winners will be notified by email.

  • The Judge’s decision is final.

  • Copyright will remain with the competitor, but Strokestown Poetry Festival reserves the right to arrange publication or broadcast selected poems as it sees fit.